Max Verstappen's race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase has reflected on his first meeting with the Dutchman.
After his rookie F1 season in 2015 with Toro Rosso, Verstappen joined Red Bull a handful of rounds into the 2016 campaign.
The now-three-time World Champion made an immediate impression as he won in his first race with the Milton Keynes-based squad, fending off pressure from Kimi Raikkonen to seal the victory.
Speaking to The New York Times, Lambiase admitted that he was surprised by how fast Verstappen acclimatised to the Red Bull environment.
“The only thing I'd heard was that he had a bit of a reputation in terms of being this incoming superstar,” said Lambiase.
“Meeting him for the first time, I remember he came to the factory for three days on the simulator.
“That was quite an intense schedule of running to make sure he was up to speed with all of our operations and procedures, getting a feel for the race preparation for Barcelona, maybe giving him a little bit of a qualifying sim, and he just picked up everything immediately the first time.
“So that was actually, in itself, a little bit intimidating from my perspective.
“For him, it was just a case of ‘Who is this guy? Just another engineer I need to work with'. But we got on well.”
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Open and honest
Verstappen's Red Bull journey has seen him break several F1 records and he now sits third in the all-time race win list.
Lambiase stated that his relationship with Verstappen has grown over time and offered an insight into the 26-year-old's character.
“It's not like he's the kind of person that will open up immediately to everyone. He's got quite a close circle around him, but as soon as you're in that circle, he's a super guy.
“We can now talk about anything, anyone at any time, really open with each other, and the trust and the honesty we have in our relationship is fundamental to that success.”
Verstappen currently has a deal in place until the end of the 2028 campaign with Red Bull.
When asked how long his partnership with Verstappen will continue, Lambiase said: “It will continue for as long as the team wants me to work with Max, and Max wants me to work with him.”